September 8, 2022

Weekly Predictor: Picking the Alouettes

Peter Power/

The annual conundrum for the weekly ‘expert’ panel of CFL Pick ‘Em is upon us.

If you’re trailing, like Chris O’Leary and myself are, do you take big upset risks in the hopes of catching up or just pick the favourites hoping to chip away whenever one of the leaders takes a step back?

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Either way, this week offers some tantalizing upset pick options. The REDBLACKS are warming up and the Argos are on a short week, the Riders were close last week against the Bombers and will be extra fired up to right some wrongs, and the Montreal Alouettes are at home to the BC Lions, who come in as a one point favourite despite digging deep on the QB depth chart until Vernon Adams Jr. is ready to roll. T

he longest of long shots is the Edmonton Elks against Calgary. Though the Elks were in the game and definitely kept the Stampeders on their toes and it’s always hard to win the second half of a back-to-back on the road.

As for which upsets I like…

BC at Montreal
Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Trevor Harris and the Alouettes will be looking to get back in the win column this week against the Lions (Chris Tanouye/

The Friday nighter in Montreal would be really intriguing if Vernon Adams Jr. was up to speed on the BC Lions offence in time to start but it doesn’t look like that will be the case (at the time of this writing).

Adams may get some time under centre on Friday, even if it’s just a few snaps here and there with a limited playbook. The Lions are a slight favourite due their outstanding crop of athletes all over the offence and the defence. However, as good as the offence and defence are, if they can’t move the ball with consistency and lose the time of possession, they’ll be worn down on defence and frustrated on offence.

Over in Montreal, you have a team that had four turnovers bite them against Ottawa last week at home. The sporadic and unpredictable nature of the Alouettes makes it hard for anyone to really have confidence on what you’re going to get from this group on any given game day.

The stats and the records indicate the smart money is on BC to go out to Montreal and win, but I feel like it’s too much to ask of a team playing with quarterbacks who weren’t even in camp with them to get the ball rolling with one week of first team reps.

PICK: MONTREAL (0 confidence bonus)

Toronto at Ottawa
Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET

Can Nick Arbuckle remain undefeated as the REDBLACKS starter this weekend against the Argonauts? (The Canadian Press)

Look out, East Division, the REDBLACKS are on the move! After being dealt a tough blow losing their new franchise guy in Jeremiah Masoli, it’s interesting that the guy they initially pegged as their franchise guy in 2020, Nick Arbuckle, is leading Ottawa up the standings.

The REDBLACKS have an under-appreciated defence that when they’re not on the field for almost two thirds of a game, they can be a tenacious group. And on offence, if Arbuckle protects the ball and get some balance going with the run game, they’re not too bad either.

If Ottawa wins this week it will be a huge statement game for a team that was hoping to give the city and fan base some optimism that all the moves they made this off-season would pay off.

But in come the Argonauts, who blew away Hamilton in an impressive second half in their Labour Day Classic in Hamilton. The Argos have won three of their last five … all of them against the Tiger-Cats, of course.

But let’s go back over a month when the Caleb Evans-led REDBLACKS shut out Toronto in the second half of a 23-13 win. At the time it was the first win of the year for Ottawa.

So, yes, I will go with the REDBLACKS in this one with DeVonte Dedmon back, Lorenzo Mauldin IV leading the lead in sacks and a quarterback who may want to give a little bit back to another team that didn’t believe in him like Arbuckle did to the Elks two weeks ago.

PICK: OTTAWA (25 confidence bonus)

Saskatchewan at Winnipeg
Saturday, 5:00 p.m. ET

The Bombers will be hoping to win the second half of a back-to-back against the Riders this weekend at home (Matt Smith/

The Roughriders were close to pulling out the upset last week but of course, we aren’t playing horseshoes. The Riders showed why they’re a middle of the pack team with untimely penalties, undisciplined play and the inability to make a play when they need it the most.

The Riders are a talented group who is only getting healthier with Shaq Evans and Kyran Moore back and likely Duke Williams not too far away from a return either.

However, the Bombers showed last week why they’re the top team in the league and have been for a while. They don’t take the bad penalty at the wrong time. They don’t make critical errors, either. They’re a steady, confident group who doesn’t need to boast about it. They just show it each and every game day.

Now Saskatchewan has to go into hostile territory and there are some questions over how Cody Fajardo and the offence will handle needing a silent count after taking two time count violation penalties in their own stadium this past weekend.

If the Riders commit to Frankie Hickson and have success on the ground, they have every opportunity to silence the loudest stadium in the CFL.

But I believe the Bombers have more in the tank than what they showed at Mosaic this past weekend.

PICK: WINNIPEG (75 confident bonus)

Calgary at Edmonton
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET

Jake Maier will hope his Stampeders get the best of the Elks in the rematch of the Battle of Alberta (Dave Chidley/

My pick in this game is similar to what I just said about Winnipeg. Calgary can play much better than what they showed in the Labour Day Classic. Jake Maier was shaky off the start and that allowed Edmonton to hang around, but there is no question who the better team in Alberta is this year.

The Elks displayed a few new faces who look like they could spark the offence moving forward in Kevin Brown at running back and Dillon Mitchell in the receiving corps.

But it’s more of an indication that Chris Jones continues to develop a roster to bring him the sustained success the Elks want in the future, which doesn’t mean they’re ready to win now.

As hard as it is to win back-to-back games in the CFL, especially when the second one is on the road, I’m going with a Winnipeg and Calgary sweep from the Labour Day Weekend.

PICK: CALGARY (90 confidence bonus)

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